NC Ranks 21st in Protecting Youth from Tobacco

Thirteen years after the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement, North Carolina ranks just 21st in the nation in supporting programs to prevent young people from smoking and helping adult smokers quit.

The report released Wednesday by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Heart Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and several other public health organizations notes that North Carolina took a big step backward this year by abolishing the Health and Wellness Trust Fund.

The HWTF previously received 25 percent of the state’s tobacco settlement funds and provided dedicated funding for the state’s tobacco prevention and cessation program.

The report’s other key findings for North Carolina include:

  • North Carolina this year will collect $431 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 4 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This means North Carolina is spending just 4 cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.
  • The tobacco companies spend $396 million a year to market their products in North Carolina. This is 22 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

While the United States has significantly reduced smoking among both youth and adults,the annual report warns that the nation’s progress in reducing smoking is at risk unless states increase funding for anti-smoking initiatives.

In North Carolina, 16.7 percent of high school students smoke and almost 20 percent of adults smoke.

Tobacco annually claims 12,200 lives and costs the state $2.46 billion in health care costs.

A copy of the full report can be found here.

One Comment

  1. Christopher Mitchell

    November 30, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    This situation is frustrating for those concerned with health promotion and disease prevention. With 170k+ acres in tobacco in NC, the issue becomes a Catch-22; how do you reduce smoking, especially among teens, ban smoking in public places, and still depend on revenues from tobacco? It is criminal that they dissolve the fund to help reduce smoking, and shift that money to state budget. My own irony of growing up in NC, having gone to Duke and benefited from the tobacco fortunes, and now working in healthcare…. Such is the difficulty of NC’s love-hate relationship with tobacco. @CDMitchell